A significant jump in the number of people who are in arrears on their gas or electricity bills has been described as “shocking” by Sinn Féin.
According to the Commission for the Regulation of Utilities (CRU), just under 256,000 residential electricity customers were in arrears in the three months up to June. While the number is broadly in line with the numbers in arrears over the same periods in both 2020 and 2021, they show a “notable” spike when compared with last year when close to 218,000 people were in arrears on their electricity bills.
The jump since the first three months of the year is even more pronounced and, according to the CRU, the figure has climbed by over 55,000 or almost 25 per cent since March.
The jump coincides with the ending of the Government-backed energy credits that were used to reduce consumer bills by €800 over the course of 2022 and 2023.
The number of people in arrears on their gas bills, meanwhile, climbed from just over 160,000 to close to 168,000 over the same period, the figures from the CRU suggest.
Sinn Féin’s environment spokesman Darren O’Rourke pointed to the spike in the number in arrears and accused the Government of inaction when it came to addressing the high cost of energy in Ireland. “The figures are shocking. In the period up to June, 423,889 homes were in arrears. The increase in arrears occurred amongst both electricity and gas domestic customers.”
He said that one in eight homes across the State were now in arrears, with the percentage climbing from 9 per cent to 12 per cent between the first to second quarters of the year. “It is important to remember that these increases occurred in the warmest, lightest months of the year, and we are facing into the coldest and darkest. People are rightfully anxious about the period ahead.”